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Quill: The Life o...

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Fostering Pets: O...

Have you ever been curious about it must be like to foster a dog? Maybe you are considering dog ownership and want to ease into it. Perhaps you don’t have the time to own a dog full time for the entirety of a dog’s life, but you have a few months to offer a dog a place to lay his head, convalesce and get back on his feet. It is a wonderful way to give back to someone who may have had a rocky beginning and a way to make you feel really, really good about yourself.

For a variety of reasons there are many dogs who need homes. Maybe someone died and left a few dogs and hadn’t been able to name a guardian. Sad as this is, sometimes dogs are rescued from horribly abusive situations or ones where the owners were fighting the dogs. There are also those times when in someone’s brilliance he or she decides to breed their dog. Not realizing that a litter can be anything from three to eight puppies, this person finds himself quickly overwhelmed. Whatever the reason, these dogs need homes immediately. We know from seeing the numbers of stray dogs on the streets that shelters are overcrowded and sometimes there’s no room for ten who were just rescued from a bad situation.

Rescue organizations all over the country work with shelters and law enforcement to be the first call made when dogs have been rescued and need a home…fast! Imagine, however, that even if a particular organization has ten volunteers, homes could fill up very quickly. This is where you can help out.

Responsibilities of a Foster
If you live in a rental situation, you will want to get permission ahead of time and be prepared to show this proof to any rescue organization you sign up with. Once this is taken care of, you’ll need at minimum:

• A dog crate
• An extra leash and collar
• To prove that you are comfortable around dogs
• Means to buy food or if needed, enough money to take the dog to a vet in an emergency
• Willing to keep a dog until a forever home is found

Any volunteer organization you register with is going to do a home inspection and a background check (calling references) prior to feeling comfortable allowing a dog to stay with you. Once approved, you are ready to take a foster.

How It All Works
You get a call from your volunteer coordinator. Seven dogs were rescued from a man who kept them all chained up. They are malnourished and need a foster home by the weekend. Generally speaking it is safe to assume that the organization will take the dogs to the vet, get them their shots and will spay/neuter ones that need to be. The dog’s temperament is described in detail to you. This is especially important if you have existing dogs in the home or kids.

Sometimes the dog(s) is/are in another state and arrangements are made to get Jack to you. Many of these organizations have a series of volunteers whose sole purpose is to provide transportation from point A to point B where he or she is met by another driver who will get Jack to you. There are times when you will be asked to meet a volunteer in another state. You will already know as much as the rescuers know. His weight, approximate health status, temperament and whether he has had any training.

Once you bring Jack to your home, the quicker you provide a routine for him, the better. If he has never been potty trained, you will want to do this immediately. If Jack has had no training, you will want to, at minimum, teach him the basic commands: sit, stay, come and leave it.

The rescue organization will work with you to try and find a forever home for Jack. Nobody can determine how long this will take. It could be weeks, months but usually not longer. Sometimes homes are found but for myriad reasons they are found to be unsuitable to be a forever home. Hopefully you have the stamina to just hang in there with Jack until the perfect home makes itself known.

How to Sign Up
There are a number of ways to find a volunteer organization to sign up with. If you are in love with a particular breed, such as a German Shepherd or Greyhound, nearly every single breed has a rescue organization associated with it. A simple Internet search will net you a few.

Another way is to ask your local shelter if you can volunteer to be a foster mom or dad. The advantages of working with your local shelter are that you are serving the community in which you live and it’s unlikely you will have to drive too far to get your very own Jack to foster.

It is sad, but there are literally thousands of dogs who need fostering, for one reason or another. If you can’t commit to 10+ years with a dog, but love them, please do look into fostering. You won’t regret it and you may do a world of good to someone who didn’t ask to have his life turned upside down.

Working from Home...

Gigi has always been your sidekick. She likes to hang around you no matter what you are doing or where you are going. When you first lost your job, Gigi and you capitalized on being able to spend nearly every waking moment together, but at some point you had to make a living. You two couldn’t subsist off of long hikes and mid-week drives to the beach and the mountains. Now that you are starting a home-based business, you are quickly finding that Gigi’s desire to have your complete attention isn’t really working. Sure, you can stop what you are doing to pet her or to take care of her, but then you don’t get your work done. Fortunately, it is possible to make a few changes that enable you to get your work done while still being able to give Gigi the attention she needs and craves.

Use a Crate
While crating Gigi up isn’t your idea of taking care of her, it is one of the best ways to teach her about her new boundaries. Now, you have necessarily don’t have to put her in a crate if you don’t want to. If you have a room where you can keep her while you get some of your work done, you can use a safety gate to keep her in there. As tempting as it is to just shut the door and close her up, this can lead to separation anxiety, which can lead to Gigi getting stressed out and starting to destroy things in the room.

Keep Her Busy
When you start letting Gigi come into your work area, she is probably going to try to get attention from you. To help alleviate this, give her a chew toy, such as a deer antler or a Kong that is filled with a tasty treat like peanut butter. This will keep Gigi busy and distracted so that you can work. If you have carpeting in your workspace, you may not want peanut butter smeared all over it. In this case, deer antlers are a good option for a chew toy. Don’t worry; a deer’s antlers shed annually, so no deer are harmed to get Gigi a chewy.

Set the Tone
When you do decide to give her some attention, do it on your terms and not when Gigi begs for it. She has to know that you are the leader. By giving in to her when she wants your attention, you are giving her the message that she is the one who is in charge. It is also important for you to only give Gigi attention when you aren’t sitting in your work chair. This sets the precedent that you aren’t to be bothered when you are sitting in your chair.

Take a Timeout
Set a timer to remind you to give Gigi attention. No matter if she is in a room or crate or in your work area, giving her attention on a regular schedule will remind her that you know she is there. If you can, set a timer to go off every 50 minutes. When the timer goes off, get up and go take Gigi out for a walk. Not only will this give Gigi some time with you and a chance to go do her business, it also helps you. Studies have shown that humans who don’t take breaks to get up and move around are at an increased risk of blood clots, heart disease and other medical conditions.

Dogs are also creatures of habit. Gigi will learn to anticipate the time even before it goes off and she will be waiting, leash in mouth, for her time with you.

Stick to Your Guns
There will be times when Gigi tries to push her limits and break the rules. When she does this, it is important that you stick to your guns. If you let her curl up on your lap while you invoice a client or write an article, she will think that she is allowed up there now. As Gigi settles into her new routine with you, getting your work done with her underfoot will be a lot easier. Chances are good that she just needs to get accustomed to having you around all day.

Approaching a Str...

You have a new neighbor with a new dog. Daisy seems friendly enough, but whenever you meet a new dog, you should take certain steps to ensure you both come out of it unharmed. Make sure the new neighbor allows you to greet Daisy before approaching. Only her owner can tell you if she will be ok with meeting a new person.

Make your Move
• Adjust your attitude. If you have had any bad experiences with a dog, meeting a new one will likely make you tense. Daisy can read that easily and it can affect her feelings towards you. If you feel at all nervous, take a minute to breathe deeply and relax. You should only ever approach a new dog when you are calm.
• Avoid making eye contact, at least initially. Eye contact is a bold move between dogs. It signals dominance and some may react badly to it. Show Daisy you are no threat by looking down or up, but not right at her eyes.
• Approach Daisy slowly. Rushing at her can be terrifying and threatening and she may act accordingly.
• Stick out your hand slowly and calmly. If she wants to sniff it, let her. Move your hand toward her neck, either on the side or under her chin. Petting a dog on the top of the head can be perceived as threatening. You can pet her all over once she is comfortable with you, but for now stick with the neck.
• Let Daisy smell you out. Dogs greet each other by smelling. If she wants to smell your pants, your arms, or even your face, let her. Remain still, calm, and keep avoiding eye contact.
• Once you have gotten this far and all is well, you can look Daisy in the eyes and become her new friend.

What Not to Do
Meeting Daisy is one thing. She is your new neighbor. Her owner was around to tell you it was ok to approach. But what about other situations? The safest bet is to not meet a dog that is alone. If you feel you want to approach a new dog, be sure you do not make these mistakes.
• Don’t let size or breed determine your approach. A little Yorkie can pack a nasty bite and a Doberman may be a sweet pushover. Size and breed have absolutely nothing to do with a dog’s temperament.
• Don’t approach a dog that is barking from its fenced yard. He may be friendly after all, but the risk is greater when a dog feels he is protecting his property. Leave him alone.
• Don’t tense up or act nervous. The dog will act accordingly. If you stick your hand out and then jerk it back out of fear, the dog will jump back and a fear bite could be possible.
• Don’t interrupt food or a chew toy. If a dog is busy with food, a treat, or a toy, he is more interested in it than you, so just let him be. If you try to get in between them, you may come away with a bite.
• Don’t run. If you have assessed the situation and a dog seems intimidating, protective, or aggressive, the last thing to do is run. Back away slowly and avoid eye contact. The best way to lose unwanted attention is to ignore it.
• Don’t misread the signals. A stiff, slowly wagging tail, held up very high is not a friendly sign. Nor are flattened ears, a tense body, or continuous barking. A lower, wagging tail, upright ears, and a relaxed body are good signs.

Dogs have very different ways of communicating than we do. Understanding what they are saying can be the difference between making a new friend or getting bitten. Once you’ve earned the trust of a new dog, you have a friend for life, but getting there is not as easy as walking up to a human and assessing through verbal queues. Heading these words of caution is the best way to make a new canine buddy.

Dog Aggression: D...

There are many, many misunderstandings about dogs and breeds. The myths abound and the truth is that dog behavior is largely down to the owner. That’s right. Your beloved Sammy the golden retriever snarls and bites at the mailman because of you. And your neighbor’s gentle and docile Rottweiler, Lolita lets the mailman pet her thanks to her owner.

You have probably been wondering how Sammy could be so vicious sometimes. Aren’t golden retrievers bred to be sweet and even-tempered? And aren’t Rottweilers bred to be guard dogs? The answer is yes, but the truth is nurture trumps nature when it comes to dog behavior. Sure, breed guidelines can give you some indication of what a dog’s behavior can be like. But it is not set in stone. How a dog is raised, trained, and socialized makes more difference than anything else.

Not to worry, though. It is not too late for Sammy to become more like Lolita. With proper training from a professional and in extreme cases, work with a behavior specialist, Sammy can become the mailman’s best friend.

How do Dogs Get to be Aggressive?
Aggressive behavior is not natural in a dog unless it is feeling threatened or feels its owners are threatened. Otherwise, there is no reason for any dog to snarl, snap, or bite. Something external has to make Sammy feel like he needs to bite the mailman.

There are many possible ways in which a dog might become aggressive.
• Bad or non-existent socialization. When a puppy does not get out of the house and meet new people, they can become fearful of strangers. They may be perfectly calm and easy-going around their owners, but strangers may make them very nervous. Dogs need to be exposed to lots of different people and different dogs to learn how to behave appropriately around others and to learn to be comfortable in a variety of situations.
• Abuse. Obviously this is not the case with your beloved Sammy. But, many dogs that have been abused physically naturally become aggressive towards people. Their aggression is a defense mechanism to keep from getting hurt again.
• Inappropriate Training. Some dog trainers still use pain and fear as motivation. Choke collars, shock collars, and other sorts of deterrents during training can lead a dog to become aggressive.
• Isolation and boredom. Dogs that are left alone for long stretches of time can become aggressive out of frustration. If you work long hours and Sammy stays alone in the house all day, the mailman coming to the door may be the most exciting part of his day. He is frustrated, bored, and lonely and this makes him lash out. Aggression born of frustration can also result from lack of exercise. All dogs, no matter their size or breed, need a walk or two each day to release energy and to get out and see the world. Imagine how you would feel if you never left the boundaries of your yard.

How do You Correct Aggression?
An aggressive dog is a serious matter. Before attempting to retrain Sammy yourself, consult with a trainer or behaviorist who has experience working with aggressive dogs. The best way to beat aggression, however, is to start early. When taking in a new dog, you should establish yourself as a firm, but gentle leader of the pack. You also need to get the dog out into the world to meet new people and dogs, and to get plenty of exercise. If you have long working hours, consider getting a dog walker for a midday break, exercise, and socialization.

Moving to a New C...

Perhaps you’ve just accepted a wonderful career opportunity, you have family in another country or you just want to find new surroundings in a more exotic location. Whatever the reason, relocating every member of your family, including your beloved dog takes research. Unfortunately, you’re on your own as far figuring out the details for the rest of the family, but this article can assist you in relocating your pet.

Where to Begin
With all of the regulations in place, the hardest part is often deciding where to start. There are actual professional pet transportation companies, which can be hired to help you with everything from paperwork to being sure your pet has the correct vaccinations to providing ground transport once your pet has arrived. If you choose to do it on your own, it may take some doing, but your dog is surely worth it.

A good place to start is with the local embassy or consulate for the country to which you are moving. They will be able to advise you of any quarantine time, whether or not a microchip is needed, what sort of vaccines and vet records you’ll need and if your dog’s breed is even allowed into that country.

It can take up to six months to get everything rolling for your pet’s journey to join you. During that time, there are other things you can work on to help them get used to the idea. If your dog isn’t used to being in a crate, you’ll need to teach Bailey that the crate is a safe place and that it is not a punishment. Start off with 20-minute sessions and increase the time gradually. Include a favorite blanket and a toy. Be sure she has access to water as well. Over time, it will be a place she is willing to go on her own. By the time you are ready to fly together, Bailey will be a pro at staying in her crate.

Your veterinarian will be able to help with any health records, vaccinations, microchips, blood tests and health certificates that are required. It is very important that the instructions provided by the consulate or embassy are followed to the letter, as any mistakes can cause your dear dog to remain in quarantine longer than expected.

During the Flight
Different airlines also have restrictions regarding animals as passengers. Some airlines will allow a certain number of small animals as carry on baggage per flight. If you have a large dog, it’s very likely that they will need to be placed in temperature-controlled cargo. It is advised that you not sedate your dog, as it can suppress their respiratory system and cause a dangerous health situation if too much sedative is given. If you think it’s best that your pet be calm throughout the flight, you should discuss your concerns with your vet. Bailey’s doctor will be able to best advise you based upon your dog’s individual health, as well as how long the flight is.

Once You Arrive
If Bailey has to be placed in quarantine, be sure to visit her daily. That might be unnecessary advice, but she needs to know she is not being left there. She needs to know you still want to be with her in order to keep her spirits up and to remain healthy. If you can, leave a favorite blanket and toy with her to remind her of home.

Dogs typically are happy to be anywhere their people are. If they see you’re adjusting, they will adjust quickly to new surroundings as well. It might not be a bad idea to keep her in only a small part of your new home to begin with. After a couple of days, allow her to explore. Be very careful that she is not able to get out unescorted by a member of the family, as unfamiliar territory can be extremely dangerous.

Setting up the New Place
Try to set Bailey’s area up the same way it was in your old home. Place her bed and dishes in a similar orientation. If you two had special routines for meal times and play times, try to return to those as quickly as jet lag allows. This will reassure her that she is safe and it will strengthen the bond between the two of you. In no time, she should adjust and maybe be speaking the new language faster than you.